Teacher Preparation

New York City Issues Teacher-Preparation Data

By Stephen Sawchuk — August 14, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The teacher-preparation programs that supply a majority of teachers to New York City schools generally seem to be producing effective graduates who stay in their classrooms at higher rates than the national average, according to a report issued this morning by the city school district.

The Teacher Preparation Program Reports look at 12 institutions, each of which supplied at least 150 teachers to city schools between 2008 and 2012. A number of states, such as Tennessee, Louisiana, and Ohio, have begun to issue report cards or other annual information on their teacher-preparation programs, but New York City appears to be the first district to move forward on this front.

In a press conference, city officials underscored that the reports weren’t meant to punish programs, but rather to help stimulate conversations about how to tailor their programming. Many welcomed the data, they said.

“I definitely don’t want this viewed as a gotcha-type thing,” said schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott.

Among the findings, the reports show that more than half the teachers hired from these 12 institutions were in highest-need license fields, such as special education, math, science, or English as a second language. That’s important given the teacher preparation supply-and-demand mismatch in many states, including New York.

Programs did differ in what percent of graduates were hired into high-needs schools, ranging from 16 percent for Queens College up to 48 percent for Mercy College. But overall retention of teachers after three years was high across the board, good news considering the high national rates of teacher turnover.

Interestingly, the most prestigious programs, at New York University and Teachers College, had the lowest retention rates (though still above 70 percent). That may be because they draw teachers from all over the country, some of whom return home after a few years of teaching.

The report also dips a toe into the controversial area of program effectiveness. It shows the breakdown of how each program’s teachers of 4th through 8th grade reading and literacy boosted students’ test scores. These calculations are based solely on growth in test scores, not on observations or other measures. (Recall New York state Education Commissioner John King recently imposed a teacher-evaluation system on the district after years of disagreement between the city and its teachers’ union. That system debuts later this month.)

District officials urged caution in looking at the effectiveness results, which are based on fairly small sample sizes. Even so, every program had a majority of teachers scoring at the “effective” or “highly effective” bar.

One apparent outlier was Lehman College, which had more than a third of its teachers earn lower ratings. But it’s hard to tell if this is a function of the small sample size or some other factor: Lehman, for instance, placed almost half its teachers in the highest-needs schools.

The report does not include information on teachers trained through alternative routes, such as Teach For America or the New York City Teaching Fellows program. But the city plans to conduct those analyses in the near future.

You can read the whole report below.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.